Watchmen trailer catches the MPAA’s eye
I don’t think a measly two minutes and twenty seconds has ever done so much for a film’s hype as the “Watchmen” trailer run-time did for the upcoming super-hero epic. I went to the midnight showing of “The Dark Knight,” and one of the loudest cheers of the whole night came during the teaser for the flick; The subsequent buzz on the intwerwebs has been nothing sort of fanatical, with “just what the hell is ‘Watchmen’?” posts popping up all over to break the trailer down frame-by-tiny-frame for those who may not have been exposed to the critically acclaimed graphic novel penned by Alan Moore in the ’80s (example: Cinematical).
News comes in today from Cinema Blend that “The Dark Knight” movie-goers and uber-geeks around the country aren’t the only ones getting worked up by it. The Motion Picture Association of America decided that the trailer, which depicted a a really short, blink-and-you-miss-it shot of a gun-wielding assassin getting beaten up, needed to be altered before it could be shown in front of “The Dark Knight.” The news perplexed Zack Snyder, who is making his directorial follow-up to “300” with “Watchmen.”
“The MPAA said, ‘Look you can’t have him [holding the gun]‘ … I don’t even think it’s one second. I think it’s like 12 frames. He’s pointing the gun at the camera, and they said, ‘You can’t do that.”
The article goes on to explain that the MPAA didn’t take issue in the gun’s presence (it’s not fired or used in any way, other than to point at the guy beating him up). Instead, the fact that the gun is pointed in the general direction of the camera lens is cited as the reason why the MPAA was irked with the particular shot.
So how does a director, who is under extreme pressure to succeed with this project because of the book’s enormous popularity and acclaim, appease both the eager audience members and the MPAA board in a tight situation? Easy — steal a page from Steven Spielberg’s book.
In a move that was hotly disputed, Spielberg digitally removed all the guns from his mega-hit “E.T.,” replacing them with walkie talkies for a recent re-release of the film. Snyder did the same thing on an obviously much smaller scale; in the “12-frame” sequence, he digitally changed the object in the assailants hand from a gun to a walkie talkie
“I was like, ‘Well, it worked for Spielberg, so we should do that. Just put a walkie-talkie in his hand!’ … [The editors] were like, ‘But then you cut to a real gun!’ but I’m like, ‘No one will ever see that; they’ll think he had a gun in the other shot, so it’s fine.”
In all honesty, I’ll be damned if I can tell that there was a change made. I watched and rewatched the trailer several times (the sequence in question comes at about the 1:33 mark), and I can’t tell that the object isn’t a gun, and I’d be willing to bet a lot of money no one caught the alteration without being told about it first. I really don’t think this is a big deal at all, especially because the actual film doesn’t sound like it’s in jeopardy of being altered in any way because of the change in the trailer.
The writer at Cinema Blend seems a ton more pissed off about this than I am, ranting for a little while about the MPAA’s inconsistency and hypocrisy, but it’s not like anyone noticed, cared or won’t see “Watchmen” because of the change. And as long as the MPAA doesn’t send the actual flick back to the editing board for small changes like this, I don’t really have a problem with it at all.
Anyways, I’d be interested to know if any of you can really, honestly tell that he’s holding a walkie talkie instead of a gun. Check out the trailer, and pay special attention at around the 1:33 mark: